LOS ANGELES -- MLB strikeout leader Clayton Kershaw fanned 11 in eight innings, Joc Pederson homered twice and Corey Seager once as the Dodgers beat the Angels, 5-1, on Tuesday night to split the Dodger Stadium half of this week's four-game Freeway Series.
Kershaw (6-1) didn't walk a batter and has struck out at least 10 with one or no walks in six consecutive starts, extending his own modern-day record. Six straight starts with at least 10 strikeouts also is a franchise record (the MLB record is eight by Pedro Martinez in 1999 and Chris Sale in 2015). Kershaw's ERA is 1.67 and his last five wins have followed Dodgers losses.
"When you see [Mike] Trout walking up to the batter's box and he looks at me and shakes his head like, 'I'm going to take my medicine,' that respect is earned," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "There's that novelty, that respect that Clayton has from other players, so when you get in there, you're almost defeated."
Kershaw has 88 strikeouts and only four walks in 70 innings this year. His 22 to 1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) is on pace for the highest mark in the modern era, far beyond Phil Hughes' 11.63 to 1 mark with Minnesota in 2014. In May, Kershaw is 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA, 48 strikeouts and one walk.
"Adjectives, superlatives -- there are none," Roberts said. "He's consistent, and he's consistently great. You look at a 'pen that's a little spent, so to go from Clayton to Kenley [Jansen, who pitched the ninth inning] was a big lift for us. He continues to do it, punches out guys, doesn't walk guys, and just continues to dominate."
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The Dodgers' first run scored when Trout dropped Justin Turner's fly ball near the center-field warning track for an error in the third inning, allowing Chase Utley to score from second base. The Angels had taken a 1-0 lead in the second inning with three singles, aided by a Kershaw balk.
"Just lost my balance," said Kershaw, who has balked in two straight starts, tying for the league lead in that category, too.
Angels right-hander Jered Weaver lasted seven innings despite dealing with a threatening Dodgers offense all night, giving up four runs (three earned). Weaver, who has lost his last three decisions while dealing with general soreness and tightness in his right shoulder, said he's still not where he wants it to be, physically.
"There's been nothing easy about this process," said Weaver, who's still throwing his fastball in the low 80s. "It's been a lot of hard work in between starts, and it's taken a bit longer than anticipated as far as my body goes."
Tuesday's loss marked the end of a four-game winning streak for the Angels, which tied a season-high.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Home run happy: Pederson hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and a solo shot leading off the eighth, giving the center fielder eight long balls on the season. Seager homered in the seventh, his seventh. The Dodgers have home runs in 11 straight games for the first time since 2009, and Tuesday marked the third straight game the club got two homers from a young slugger. Seager had his first multi-homer game on Sunday and Trayce Thompson went deep twice in the Freeway Series opener.
"You look at the .245 average, but if you look at the on-base-plus-slugging, you're looking at close to .900," Roberts said of Pederson. "To play a premium defensive position, his at-bats have been very consistent. He might not be getting as many hits as people might expect, but his at-bats are competitive and he's hitting the ball hard. He's got seven balls out of the ballpark and playing great defense for us. He's really coming of age." More >
Early, but not often: The Angels got to Kershaw early, riding singles by Albert Pujols, Johnny Giavotella and Shane Robinson and a balk by Kershaw to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. That's all the Halos would get off the Dodgers' ace, however, as from that point on the only baserunner came from Giavotella's fourth-inning single. To wrap up his start, Kershaw retired 13 Angels in a row. Entering play Tuesday, the Angels had been struck out fewer times than any team in baseball (218), but they were no match for Kershaw in this one.
"Early on, he kind of adapts as his game goes on, which makes him even better," Giavotella said of Kershaw. "He kind of sensed that we were being aggressive and swinging on a lot of first-pitch fastballs and he kind of adapted and started throwing the cutter and mixing in the curveball a little more." More >
Trout cuts down Kershaw: Trout's defense was put on full display in the bottom of the third inning, as he nailed Kershaw trying to go from first to third on an Utley single for his third outfield assist of the season.
"Yeah, that was good," Trout said. " You work on stuff in early [batting practice]. I'm still trying to work on the accuracy of my arm, getting stronger. It's showing." More >
Utley's heads-up baserunning: When Kershaw momentarily lost his mind and tried to run on Trout on Utley's single, Utley hustled to second base on the throw. That put him in position to score, tying the game at 1, when Trout dropped Turner's fly ball to the track one batter later. It was Trout's second error of 2016, and first on a catch since Sept. 24, 2014.
"I got to the wall, I thought I was going to have to jump, and then realized I didn't need to," Trout said. "That shouldn't happen."
"The last thing I'm going to do is quit on this team. I'm going to keep going out there and battling, and that's my mentality. A lot of other people would shut it down, but that's not who I am. I'm on the right track." -- Weaver, on his confidence following a third loss this season
Angels:Nick Tropeano (1-2, 3.68 ERA) takes the mound Wednesday night as the four-game Freeway Series shifts to Angel Stadium. He's yet to go more than 5 2/3 innings in a start this season, but he held the Mariners to two runs on five hits his last time out.
Dodgers:Mike Bolsinger will be activated from the disabled list and take the ball as the Dodgers go with a sixth starter when the Freeway Series shifts to Anaheim on Wednesday. The right-hander will be making his 2016 debut after straining an oblique during Spring Training.
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